Intro to Houseplants Online Course Starts in January 2013



Houseplants (Source: Flickr, FD Richards)

Iowa State University is offering an eight week online course called Introduction to Houseplants, starting in January 2012!

While winter is waging in the northern half of the United States, you could be inside learning more about lush and tropical houseplants. While this course is aimed at houseplant beginners, even if you are accomplished in the arts of indoor plant care, you may be interested in this class.

What will Intro to Houseplants cover and can I get continuing education credits?

This course is especially ideal for Extension Master Gardeners (or EMGs) because most states will accept this training for your continuing education credits (check with your coordinator to be sure). Most states offer up to three hours of training related to houseplants in their core training.

This class will discuss the science of houseplants for eight hours in addition to the class activities, specifically we’ll focus on:

  • irrigation
  • substrates
  • light
  • fertility
  • temperature and humidity
  • common houseplant problems
  • houseplant propagation
  • houseplant identification.

One example of an activity will include a plant propagation project after the propagation lecture. You will learn about the techniques and then do it yourself!

Interaction with instructor and other students across the U.S!

Introductions to houseplants will be delivered via Blackboard Learn, an online training program that can be accessed anywhere you have internet. Class discussions and at home activities will round out the lecture and video instruction portion of the course.

Intro to Houseplants
Intro to Houseplants (click to enlarge image)

Students will also have an opportunity to interact with each other from all across the United States. One of the first assignments is to post a picture of you with one of your houseplants (one can even be borrowed, if need be). Then you would describe the plant including its common and scientific names as well as an unusual or interesting fact about the plant. Other students in the class can add tidbits of information that they know about the plant too.

As the instructor, I will be available to answer any additional questions – publicly, via discussion threads, or individually.

Having worked with EMGs at both the county and state levels, I especially welcome interaction with enthusiastic volunteers. This course can also go towards an online degree, depending on your goals.

For more information regarding Introduction to Houseplants through Iowa State University, see

{UPDATE since the original blog posting: If you are an Extension Master Gardener, you may take the course for non-credit for $150.00.  For non-credit registration, go to this link:

If you need more information or if you would like to know how to apply for credit, contact}

You will find the relevant registration details and course fee information on that page. Depending on your avenue of taking the course, Iowa State University tuition charges may apply.

The Power of Pollinators – Spreading the Buzz with Three Educational Modules


As National Pollinator Week 2012 comes to a close, the Extension Master Gardener blog detailed how EMG’s observe Pollinator Week through both the week and the past year.  As Master Gardeners, we all love to cultivate our gardening knowledge — therefore the Power of Pollinators training modules created by The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Ohio State University is the best conclusion to a week dedicated to pollinators.

Access Three Pollinator Educational Modules at eXtension Campus

Each Power of Pollinator module has a train the trainer approach to help spread the word about pollinators. This set of three modules covers:

  1. Why Pollinators Matter
  2. Bee Biology and Identification
  3. Gardening for Pollinators

You can easily access all three modules through the eXtension Campus website,

First, set up an account using the “Create an account” link on the left side of the page. It’s free, easy and secure.

Once you have that account created (you will receive an e-mail with confirmation and a password), log into the eXtension Campus site, scroll through the available course categories and select , “Yard and Garden”. Then select “The Power of Pollinators”.

See the Intro to the Power of Pollinators video for a quick overview of what you’ll find in the educational modules:

As we end the celebration of National Pollinator Week 2012 on the EMG blog,  we look to see the daily benefit of pollinators in our gardens. To assist others learn about pollinator benefits and gardening for pollinators, check out these three modules and begin to get the latest knowledge to identify and care for them throughout the entire year.

Terri James, Extension Assistant-Urban Gardening
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension

Fire Ant Control Offers Training Opportunity

Master Gardeners are used to fielding a wide variety of questions. I worked our Home Garden Helpline several weeks ago and almost all of the questions I answered were related to fire ants. My fellow Master Gardener was happy to let me answer all these questions. As we were finishing our shift, she confided that she just didn’t feel confident in answering questions on fire ants and other insects.

I expect the she is not the only Master Gardener who worries that her knowledge on fire ants isn’t comprehensive enough to answer consumer questions. But there is an excellent opportunity to learn more about managing imported fire ants.

May 10 Online Seminar: Fire Ant Control Made Easy

An online seminar, Fire Ant Control Made Easy, will be Thursday, May 10 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT (10 to 11 a.m. CDT or 8 to 9 a.m. PDT). The webinar is brought to you by the Imported Fire Ant eXtension Community of Practice.

Killing fire ants is actually easier than you think—if you understand how they live. This seminar will help you learn how to use integrated pest management tactics that are as economical and environmentally friendly as possible. You’ll also learn about fire ant biological control agents such as the Pseudacteon phorid flies. Phorid flies are also known as decapitating flies.

It’s very simple to participate in the webinar. Follow this link and log in as “guest.”  If you have specific questions that you want answered to during the webinar, post them to the Imported Fire Ant eXtension Facebook page .

The Imported Fire Ant Community of Practice also has gathered some great information and resources in one place for Master Gardeners. You can find that information here. You can also find more information on fire ants at or on Facebook (Fire Ant Info), Twitter (FireAntInfo), and YouTube (eXfireants).